By HAL McCOY
What the Cincinnati Reds are doing recently to the Chicago Cubs is mindful of a line from the movie ‘Network’ — “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
For the past several seasons, the Cubs have treated the Reds like the early version of the Bad News Bears. They beat them to death.
So it was shocking and unbelievable in June when the Reds took four straight games from the Cubs in Great American Ball. That caused Cubs manager Joe Maddon to utter, “I’m just glad it wasn’t a five-game series.”
The Reds are making their first visit of the season to Wrigley Field, a real horror house for the Reds. Things have changed.
With a strong, solid pitching performance by Tyler Mahle, the Reds hold off the Cubs, 3-2, for their fifth straight over the Wrigleys.
And it snapped Chicago’s six-game winning streak and the Cubs had won seven of their last nine.
With an 18 miles an hour wind blowing in, holding up any fly ball, the Reds resorted to small ball and made do with nine singles, three by Billy Hamilton.
All three Hamilton hits came with him batting right handed, leading to more discussion that perhaps that fleet afoot center field should scrap his switch-hitting and return to batting only right handed, his natural side.
The Reds constructed an early 3-0 lead against Cubs left hander Mike Montgomery on a passel of singles, a hit batsman, ground balls and fly outs.
They scored two in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases with no outs on a walk to Scooter Gennett, a single by Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch.
One run scored when Adam Duvall singled and another scored while Curt Casali hit into a double play.
The Reds made it 3-0 in fifth on singles by Hamilton and Jose Peraza and a sacrifice fly by Gennett.
Mahle pitched out of a two-on and one out problem in the second by coaxing a double play ground ball from Willson Contreras.
The Cubs scored their only run off Mahle in the fifth on a Contreras bloop double, the only extra base hit of the game, catcher’s interference against Casali with pinch-hitter Tommy LaStella batting and a fielder’s choice by Albert Almora Jr.
Mahle pitched two outs into the seventh but when he issued a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Ian Happ to put two runners on, his day was done. Manager Jim Riggleman went to Michael Lorenzen and he retired Almora on a pop-up to second, ending the inning.
The Cubs put two on with one out in the eighth and scored a run on Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice fly to the wall in center and the runner on first moved to second.
That put the potential tying run on second with two outs with Reds closer Raisel Iglesias on the mound.
‘The Book’ says to never put the winning or go-ahead run on base. Riggleman, though, either never read the book or skipped that chapter. He had Iglesias walk left hander Kyle Schwarber, the potential go ahead run.
It worked. Iglesias retired Contreras on a ground ball to second.
So it was 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Cubs had permitted the opposition to score first in their last seven games and won the last six. The Reds scored first.
So…there was excitement among the 41,000 in Wrigley Field when Ian Happ singled with one out. The University of Cincinnati graduate owns a .511 on-base average against the Reds.
Pinch-hitter Victor Caratini grounded to second, a perfect double play ball. But second baseman Scooter Gennett ignored a throw to second and threw Caratini out at first.
That put the tying run on second with two outs and Jason Heyward at the plate. He was 3 for 17 against Iglesias, put up a monster argument. He went to 3-and-2, fouled off two pitches, then flied to left field to end it.
That gives the Reds a 17-6 record since June 10, tying the Houston Astros for the best record in the majors over that period of time.
Mahle pushed his record above .500 at 7-and-6, tying his career best in innings pitch at 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run, five hits, two walks and striking out four.
Iglesias picked up the four-out save. He has 51 career saves, 21 of more than one inning.